I've started work proper on the "Vesuvian Reforms" of GASLIGHT. If needs be, go back to one of my earlier posts for the "GASLIGHT is great as it is, but..." disclaimers. To summarise, I'm doing this to tailor the game to better fit the tastes of me and my group. This is totally unofficial, in no way endorsed by Chris and Buck, and I'm NOT trying to encourage other people to use these house rules. But if one of the things I'm changing is something that's put you off GASLIGHT in the past, maybe my tweaks might improve the game for you.
As mentioned previously, the current Morale & Tests of Manhood mechanic, while I really admire the elegance and the thinking behind it, is one that doesn't work for my group. My players all seem to automatically write off any unit that fails a check, never bothering to "rally" them, making the process of rolling the individual reactions a waste of time.
My objectives in writing these new Morale rules were (1) keep to the spirit of the original rules i.e. stateless morale, (2) give a broadly similar result to the original rules (3) be able to represent different troop qualities without using the "unit size = quality" idea from the Compendium (4) Get away from the original 10-man unit limitation and (5) Be as quick and simple in play as possible
The Compendium didn't shy away from suggesting new attributes for GASLIGHT (like the Swoop, Soar etc attributes for flyers) so the simplest thing to do was to take the original base target number (i.e. 10 for the number of men in a unit) and make that a new morale attribute, which I've called Steel. If you were playing an ACW or Western based game, you might want to use the name "Sand" instead. I did briefly toy with the idea of using the name "Stiffness"... as in "stiff upper lip", but I figured that would lead to way too much bawdy sniggering.
So everyone has a Steel attribute which defaults to 10. Elite troops have 12, Poorer troops have 8.
Instead of reducing this directly by the number of casualties, I set a penalty for every 25% casualties. I think it's easier to intuit that a 7 man unit that's lost 3 men has lost more than 25% but not quite 50% for a -2 penalty, than it is to divide your roll by (20/7=)2.85 as per the current guidelines.
Finally I wanted the severity of hits that vehicles take to affect their morale checks - vehicle morale checks are something we've always forgotten to do, but since they currently just boil down to "anything but a 20" unless the vehicle has lost some crew. The crew of a vehicle that's just taken a penetrating hit should be shaken up.
For the results, I went with a much simpler graded response. How much you fail the Steel check by determines how bad the morale failure is. For each level of failure, half the surviving unit will have one reaction, while the other half will have a reaction one step worse. So half your unit might fall back 6" in good order, while the other half will run 12" away. I've also got specific results for Vehicles and, a departure from the original rules, Main Characters. The original rules state that Main Characters are immune to Morale... but then again one of the character skills is "Nerves of Steel" which allows a character to "never fail morale", which is a bit of a niggling inconsistency.
It looses a little bit of the current randomness, where a lone berserker might charge the enemy. But it does leave a "broken" unit somewhat scattered, though not as badly as per the current rules. It would typically only take one turn of movement to bring all the troops back into unit integrity, making rallying a more attractive option. And I think it'll be a lot quicker in practice than resolving the current rules.
The result is a nice, tidy modular Morale mechanism that you can easily slot into an otherwise unmodified GASLIGHT game, by simply assuming that everyone has a Steel of 10. We'll definitely be using these rules in the next GASLIGHT game, even if the rest of the Vesuvian Reforms are nowhere near completion by then.
For your consideration
Morale and Tests of Manhood